Italy’s Nardiello Takes WBC Super-middleweight Title
MANCHESTER, England (AP) _ Italy’s Vincenzo Nardiello beat Thulane ``Sugar Boy″ Malinga in his first defense as WBC super-middleweight champion Saturday, frustrating the South African for 12 rounds to gain a split decision.
Malinga failed to find a way through the Italian’s left-handed defense. The South African, who took the title away from Britain’s Nigel Benn four months ago, came up with a poor follow-up performance and virtually handed the championship to Nardiello.
Judge Miguel Acuna from Mexico scored it 116-111 for Malinga, but John Keane of Britain had it 116-112 for Nardiello and Alfred Azalo of France scored it 114-112 for Nardiello.
Nardiello, a former policeman from Rome, won the belt in his second title challenge after being knocked down five times by Benn last year. The upset victory improved his record to 30-5-0 while the 36-year-old Malinga slipped to 41-10-0.
Malinga, who weighed 165 3/4 pounds, seemed to offer little until the last three rounds while Nardiello, 167, preferred to counter-punch and waited for the champion to come forward.
Throughout the fight, neither fighter was able to land from long range and most of the action was restricted to jabs, the vast majority hitting the arms instead of the head.
Nardiello stepped up the pace at the start of the seventh round and had a better variety of punches. In the ninth, Nardiello went down on one knee complaining of a low blow. Referee Mickey Vann took no action but, when another one landed a few seconds later, he ordered the judges to deduct a point from the South African.
The final two rounds had more scrappy, unconvincing exchanges with few punches landing cleanly.